NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Who's Dissatisfied With Public Schools?

October 27, 1999

While most American parents claim they are satisfied with their area's public elementary schools, a sizable minority is not, according to a survey of 50,000 households in 55 cities conducted by the Educational Testing Service.

In more than half the cities, upward of 16 percent of households surveyed were dissatisfied with the quality of their schools.

  • Rates of satisfaction ranged from 66 percent to 96 percent of families with children up to age 16.
  • More than one-third of families in Cleveland and 32 percent in Oakland, Calif., found the quality of their public schools inadequate.
  • Chicago, Cincinnati and Philadelphia rounded out the five cities where families voiced the greatest dissatisfaction.
  • On average, 46 percent of the city families who were dissatisfied with their public schools enrolled their children in private schools.

Black and Hispanic parents were more likely to accept public schools than white parents.

Wealthy families tended to be dissatisfied. In Milwaukee, Denver, Dallas, Memphis, Baltimore and Chicago, parents who were dissatisfied had median annual incomes 50 percent higher than those who were satisfied with public schools.

Source: Tamara Henry, "Public Elementary Schools Pass Parents' Test, Study Finds," USA Today, October 27, 1999.


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